At Assured Strategy, we believe in creating, implementing, and updating best practices to manage a team. For effective team leadership to happen, though, you need structure. Learn some steps you can take today to create a culture of accountability and responsibility in your workplace.
How to Be a Team Leader in the Workplace
I’ve fallen in love with three simple letters: WWW. No, not the World Wide Web—I’m referring to a simple business accountability practice of tracking Who, What, When. I’ve found this easy process begins to take root and change a team’s actions and thinking in as little as two weeks.
My team leadership style is all about accountability in the workplace. My heart goes pitter-patter, and I do an internal happy dance when I hear my staff refer to their accountability tasks in a comment like, “I’ll take a WWW to get that done.” Or in the hallway, I’ll overhear a team member say, “Our weekly meeting is coming up in a few days, I had better look at the WWW list and make sure mine are done. I don’t want to be the only one who hasn’t finished them.” Music to a leader’s ears!
Here are my six steps for effective team leadership and helping your team take more autonomy on their assigned tasks:
1. Encourage accountability
Effective team leadership starts with you and your team learning the importance of accountability, both on an individual level and a group level. Discuss why it’s important to document the action items that come out of meetings, along with the need to implement a process to track responsibilities for the team.
2. Introduce the Who, What, When spreadsheet
Next, start a spreadsheet with three columns:
During your weekly meeting when a follow-up action is due from a team member, ask them to state what they are committing to do. Write down what they say verbatim in the “What” column. Then, write their name in the “Who” column, and ask them what anticipated completion date they want put in the “When” column. This is the foundation of Who, What, When.
3. Create a climate of accountability
It’s important to capture the “What” word for word. This sets up a climate of accountability and strong team leadership. There will be no more, “That’s not what I agreed to” or “I thought I was supposed to do…”
Employees become exact in their communication and clear with what is realistically achievable. For example, if a team member offers to re-do the training manual for new hire orientation in a week, it might be more realistic to revise chapters one and two of the training manual and bring those for feedback at our next meeting.
4. Follow up
The beauty of these steps starts at the second weekly meeting. If any WWW is due by that meeting date, the person responsible states to the team whether or not they accomplished the task. If they weren’t, the “why not” gets discussed.
These details open up a world of information for the team leader. Usually, the staff doesn’t share the real behind-the-scenes information. For example, are there bottlenecks in company workflow, departments, or people? Are there time leadership issues or conflicts with prioritizing? This is great info for team leadership because it helps focus objectives for productivity and goals.
5. Track your progress and adjustments
You and your team can update deadlines on the “When” column. But, don’t get rid of the previous dates; keep all the dates listed. You can insert a comment box into that cell to note any adjustments.
Over time, if you see a pattern of changes associated with a specific team member, you’ll also have great data for a coaching session that starts with something like, “I’ve noticed for the past several weeks you have had seven WWWs that needed two or more date changes. I’m curious to learn more about why this is occurring. What are your thoughts?”
6. Reflect and revise
After a WWW is completed, move it to a new location, tab, file, or folder titled, “Completed.” It’s a nice way to reflect back on the tasks that were accomplished and progress made. Use it to celebrate your team’s wins. Also, you may need the details for company reports.
Guidance for Your C-Level Employees
Using this tool, my staff became accountable publicly and privately to their commitments. Time Leadership improved when a WWW completion took precedence over distractions in the workplace. We made weekly progress on initiatives, and meetings took on a new level of group and individual accountability for performance expectations, standards, and team norms. That’s why as a leader, I love hearing the letters WWW.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can become an effective team leader, contact Assured Strategy today. Our leadership development program is great for C-level employees looking to learn good team leader qualities.